Early April is the time to watch as prairie-chickens dance in grasslands in Wisconsin and Texas, and as northbound songbirds make landfall in Louisiana after crossing the Gulf of Mexico. It’s when you can hear one of our favorite authors talk about the Passenger Pigeon. And it’s also when one of our favorite birding competitions gets underway.
Olympic Birdfest 2014
Dungeness River Audubon Center, Sequim, Washington
Guided field trips and a boat cruise in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the very birdy channel between Vancouver Island and Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, will target Marbled Murrelet, Rhinoceros Auklet, Harlequin Duck, American Dipper, Black Oystercatcher, Long-tailed Duck, and other high-interest species of the coastal Pacific Northwest. Better yet, Noah Strycker, author of the good books Among Penguins and The Thing with Feathers, will speak at the gala banquet. Go to BirdFest website.
Galveston FeatherFest & Nature PhotoFest
Galveston Island, Texas
More than 100 field trips are scheduled — to the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Anahuac and Brazoria National Wildlife Refuges, Bolivar Flats, High Island, Katy Prairie, Galveston Island, and other hotspots — and attendees will have the chance to rub shoulders with talented professional photographers Kevin Karlson and Larry Ditto. Go to festival website.
Central Wisconsin Prairie Chicken Festival
Portage County, Wisconsin
This year’s celebration will include a Grassland Gala held in partnership with the Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum and a Boomin’ Brewery Bash at Central Waters Brewing Company, but the main attraction are guided early-morning trips to viewing blinds on the famous and precious Buena Vista Grasslands, to observe booming Greater Prairie-Chickens. Every birder should do this at least once. Go to festival website.
Grand Isle Migratory Bird Celebration
Grand Isle, Louisiana
Grand Isle, in Louisiana, is a barrier island located at the mouth of Barataria Bay where it meets the Gulf of Mexico and an essential stopping point for songbirds migrating across the Gulf of Mexico. Consequently, it’s also a great places to see and study birds up close. This popular festival promises to afford many opportunities to do just that, all while supporting the purchase and management of the Grand Isle Sanctuary to protect some of the last remaining undeveloped chenier habitats. Go to festival website.
Great Louisiana BirdFest
Northlake Nature Center, Mandeville, Louisiana
The BirdFest is sponsored by the Northlake Nature Center, located just east of Mandeville, Louisiana, on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Scheduled self-drive field trips will visit Manchac Swamp, Joyce WMA, Pine Island (a rookery located in a private preserve), Bogue Chitto River Reserve, and Honey Island Swamp. Go to BirdFest website.
John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival
Harney Co., Oregon
This fun annual festival celebrates the spectacular migration in the Harney Basin of southeastern Oregon and pays tribute to John Scharff, the first on-site manager of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Trish Nixon, raptor specialist for the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, will be the featured speaker on Friday. Noah Strycker, author of Among Penguins and The Thing with Feathers, will speak Saturday night. Go to festival website.
Attwater Prairie Chicken Festival
Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR, Texas
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, west of Houston, is the site of this fun annual festival. Early-morning van tours will take participants to watch the booming courtship dance of the endangered Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken, the Texas form of the Greater Prairie-Chicken. Other events include guided wildflower and native-plant tours, birding walks and van tours led by experienced birders, and refuge tours. Go to festival website.
Tucson Audubon’s Living with Nature Lecture
Pima Community College, Tucson, Arizona
Don’t miss this. To mark this year’s centennial of the death of Martha, the world’s last Passenger Pigeon, naturalist and author Christopher Cokinos will tell the stories of the species, its last confirmed wild individual (a bird named Buttons), and Martha. Cokinos is associate professor of English at the University of Arizona and the author of the 2009 book Hope Is the Thing with Feathers, a personal chronicle of the vanished Carolina Parakeet, Labrador Duck, Heath Hen, Great Auk, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and Passenger Pigeon. Go to lecture website.
April 15-May 15
Great Texas Birding Classic
According to the organizers, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Great Texas Birding Classic is the world’s biggest, longest, and wildest birdwatching tournament, and we agree. It lasts a whole month, it takes place across the whole state, and its sponsorship and registration fees go toward valuable habitat conservation. That’s a win-win-win. Go to GTBC website.
Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival
Attendees will choose from nearly 100 field trips to Humboldt Bay, the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Redwood National Park, and other hotspots along the beautiful north coast of California. John D. Alexander, founder and executive director of the Klamath Bird Observatory, will speak on Friday. Wildlife artist Keith Hansen will deliver Saturday’s keynote. Hansen illustrated the book Birds of the Sierra Nevada, their Natural History, Status and Distribution, which we featured in our December 213 issue. Go to festival website.
Festivals and events
We highlight fun birding events in “Birding Briefs” in every issue of BirdWatching magazine. Most of the events above appeared in our April 2014 issue.
Read about these and other events in our online calendar. You can reach the calendar from any location on our website. Just look for “PHOTOS & CALENDAR” in the black bar at the top of the page. From the pull-down menu, click on “Calendar of events” to view the calendar. Click on “Submit event” to add an event.
Interested in having Editor Chuck Hagner speak at your event? Send an email.